Valdosta Daily Times. February 6, 2024.

Editorial: Registration deadline approaches for March 12 election

The 2024 presidential election is about to get into full swing in Georgia — in some ways it already has.

Georgians will vote in a primary March 12 to help determine the presidential nominees for the Republican and Democratic parties, but anyone seeking a mail-in absentee ballot can already request one. Under state law, Jan. 27 was the first day the county Board of Elections could start sending them out.

Another deadline is coming up quickly, though. Anyone who is not registered to vote but wants to cast a ballot in the March 12 election, must register to vote by Feb. 12 — Monday of next week.

To register, visit https://sos.ga.gov/how-to-guide/how-guide-registering-vote. The webpage, maintained by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, has information about requirements, a link to register online, and a link to print out a registration form if you’d rather fill it out and mail it in.

You can also contact the Lowndes County Board of Elections, 229-671-2850, for more information.

On its website, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office lists the requirements to register. You must be:

A citizen of the United States.

A legal resident of Georgia and of the county in which you wish to vote.

At least 17 1/2 years of age to register and 18 to vote.

You may not register to vote if you:

Are currently serving a sentence for a felony.

Have been ruled mentally incompetent by a court.

You’ll need your driver’s license or other identification card issued by the Georgia Department of Driver Services, even if you’re registering online.

In the 2020 U.S. presidential election, as many as one in four Americans reported not being registered to vote, with more than 600,000 non-voters specifically citing a registration problem as their reason for not casting a ballot.

A study by the Knight Foundation found more than one in four unregistered voters (27 percent) reported not being registered because they didn’t know how, they kept forgetting, they didn’t have time, were too busy, or they recently moved. Among unregistered voters ages 18-24, this number was even higher: 42 percent.

Voting is your way to influence how the city, county, state and nation operate. Getting registered is the first step to taking advantage of this awesome privilege and duty.

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Brunswick News. February 1, 2024.

Editorial: Tougher penalties needed for people who flee police

Georgia legislators might want to revisit House Bill 1216. The measure, adopted by the General Assembly in 2022, is not working.

Criminals and punks are still leading police and the state patrol on high speed chases, and it’s continuing to cost lives. It claimed the life of another Georgia state trooper Sunday. Trooper Jimmy Cenescar lost his life while in the pursuit of a motorcycle when his patrol car left Interstate 85 and crashed into an embankment.

In 2022, state lawmakers realized they had a problem and moved to strengthen the penalties for violators, including people who attempted to flee police more than once. An individual who does it once should have to wait a long time before regaining driving privileges. A person who does it a third time should never be allowed behind the wheel of a car again.

Legislators were lenient two years ago, and police and innocent victims are paying for it with their lives. For a third offense — a third time caught trying to elude police — the driver could be fined between $2,500 to $5,000 and face a prison sentence between 90 and 180 days.

As incredible as it might sound, initiating a high speed chase does not rise to the level of a felony until charged with fourth offense of attempting to flee.

It is obvious why criminals might be willing to gamble on eluding the law. They have little to lose.

Lawmakers need to open their eyes. This is not 50 years ago when traffic was light. Communities are connected by four-lane highways. Traffic signals, the purpose of which are to regulate the safe flow of trucks and vehicles, are dangling above most busy intersections.

It is only by the grace of God that more pedestrians, motorists and police are not hurt or killed when criminals try to escape justice by traveling at super velocities through busy streets. Excessive speeds put hundreds of lives at risk.

The best way to at least make them think before pushing that accelerator pedal to the floor is the promise of a heavy penalty when caught, a penalty no prosecuting attorney could reduce in a plea bargain and one judges must tack on to any other sentence imposed.

Right now, the penalty for a first offense is no less than 10 days in jail — 10 days for endangering so many lives — and a fine not less than $500. A litter conviction could draw a larger fine — $1,000, twice as much.

END

This story was originally published February 8, 2024, 2:13 PM.

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